MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami man who led police on a two county chase which came to a crashing end in Miami went before a judge on Wednesday.
Guillermo Avarez Mendez was ordered held on $66,000 bond.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office said it began around 6 p.m. at the Home Depot on State Road 7 in West Park when Alvarez, 47, allegedly burglarized a van and then sped off in what turned out to be a stolen van.
David Goupil, who was shopping inside the store, said he returned to his work van to find a side window smashed out.
Goupil, who works for an air conditioning repair company, said a witness told him that the thief reached inside the van, grabbed a bunch of tools and loaded them into a van. Goupil estimated the loss at more than $1,000.
“What am I gonna do? I’m not gonna be able to go out and work and make any money. Now I have to sit at home for two or three days trying to figure out where I’m gonna get money to pay for my tools,” said Goupil. “People who work hard, it shouldn’t happen to us.”
Goupil said he hoped his company would loan him some money so he could get replacement tools and get back on the road.
With sheriff’s deputies in pursuit, Alvarez sped south on I-95 and exited at North Miami Avenue and struck several vehicles.
“It was madness,” said “Sara” who witnessed one of the crashes. “I thought the girl in the car was really hurt. It took her a while to get out.”
The van continued on until it crashed into a black sedan in the area of 16th Avenue and SW 1st Street. Alvarez then jumped out of the van and tried to make a break for it on foot, but didn’t get very far. He was taken into custody after a short foot chase.
Quincy Hunter, a friend of Alvarez, watched the chase unfold on television. He said he never imagined that Alvarez, who was staying at the Miami Rescue Mission, would ever get caught up in something like this.
“I didn’t think he had it in him,” said Hunter. “He was a good guy, always doing his thing, he was alright.”
Jose Fornel said as he watched the chase unfold on the news, he recognized the van that Alvarez was driving. It was his. Fornel said he reported his van missing on January 14th. He said it was taken from his Little Havana home.
Alvarez is charged with burglary, grand theft, grand theft auto, felony hit and run, fleeing police, resisting arrest and may be face additional charges.